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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The sudden shift to remote learning has exposed cracks in today's digital teaching strategies, as parents and teachers struggle with the challenges of recreating the classroom experience online.

Why it matters: School closures have affected 72% of the world's student population, per UNESCO. With uncertainty clouding the prospects of a full return in the fall, there's a renewed focus on content and techniques that actually work.

What's happening: School districts that moved classrooms online early encountered challenges in trying to replicate a school day on a screen.

  • "Just taking everything we used to do and trying to wedge it into a new virtual reality is not a promising practice, it doesn't work," says Michelle Reid, superintendent of the Northshore School District in the Seattle suburbs, which launched remote learning March 9.
  • The district shifted its focus to critical content on a project-based manner, with both real-time learning and go-at-your-own pace assignments.
  • The sudden shift also meant that teachers used whatever platform they felt most comfortable with. But Reid says the district is contemplating consolidating educational tools so parents with multiple kids don't have to juggle different platforms.

Demand for ed tech services has surged, as has interest in training for teachers to work online.

  • Outschool, a business that offers live online classes for kids, saw a spike in enrollment since mid-March, CEO Amir Nathoo tells Axios, with 3- to 8-year-old kids as the fastest growing segment.
  • Parents are looking to supplement what schools are offering as they try to occupy young children who learn better with hands-on activities. “The way it’s framed and who it’s with are key to engaging young kids,” Nathoo says.
  • Coursera CEO Jeff Maggioncalda said the online platform has seen increased interest in courses for educators that aim to help make online teaching more engaging and effective.

What's next: To prepare for the fall, school districts should vet and limit which products they use, says Josh Golin, executive director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood.

  • “We’re going to have to have a real conversation about what are acceptable business models for ed tech — because if we don’t have those conversations, the business model is going to be advertising-funded education,” Golin adds.

Go deeper

Updated Oct 16, 2020 - Health

U.S. coronavirus updates

Expand chart
Data: The COVID Tracking Project; Note: Does not include probable deaths from New York City; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The U.S. surpassed 8 million coronavirus cases on Friday, per Johns Hopkins data.

The big picture: Coronavirus infections jumped by almost 17% over the past week as the number of new cases across the country increased in 38 states and Washington, D.C., according to a seven-day average tracked by Axios.

Updated 1 hour ago - Sports

IOC: Belarus sprinter who sought refuge in Tokyo "safe"

Krystsina Tsimanouskaya of Belarus in 2019. Photo: Ivan Romano/Getty Images

Belarusian Olympian Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, who sought refuge in Tokyo, is in the care of Japanese authorities and the UN refugee agency is now involved in her case, an International Olympic Committee official told reporters Monday.

The latest: Officials in Poland and the Czech Republic have offered to help the 24-year-old sprinter, who refused national team orders to board a flight home after being taken to Tokyo's Haneda airport Sunday following her criticism of Belarusian coaches, per Reuters

Updated 2 hours ago - Sports

Olympics dashboard

Italy's Lamont Marcell Jacobs of Team Italy crosses the finish line ahead of American Fred Kerley in the men's 100m final on day nine of the Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium in Tokyo, Japan, on Sunday. Photo: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

🚨: IOC "looking into" American Raven Saunders' Olympic podium gesture

🏃🏾: Italy's Lamont Marcell Jacobs: Reconnecting with U.S. father "gave me the desire to win" Olympic 100m sprint race.

🥇High jumpers persuade Olympic officials to let them share gold

🏌️‍♂️: Golfer Xander Schauffele wins gold for U.S. by one shot

🤸🏿‍♀️: Simone Biles won't compete in Olympic floor finals, individual vault or uneven bars

🏳️‍⚧️: Axios at the Olympics: Games grapple with trans athletesTrans athletes see the Tokyo Games as a watershed moment

Go deeper: Full Axios coverage